Can You Refreeze Chicken? (4 Proper Ways & Guidelines)

Jayden Lawson
Published by Jayden Lawson
Last Updated On: December 1, 2023

Being a committed carnivore, I pre-plan my meals because I consume a lot of chicken.

Yet, my cooking preparations fail occasionally, and I cannot use some of the chicken I thawed out.

I frequently debated whether it was okay to refreeze that meat, but I knew I had to come to a firm conclusion.

So, I did a ton of research and compiled this guide.

Here's what I discovered.

Quick Summary

  • Chicken thawed in a fridge can be refrozen.
  • Thoroughly cook chicken thawed in the microwave or cold water before refreezing.
  • Refrozen chicken may lose moisture and tenderness.

Can You Refreeze Chicken?

a photo of a chicken thigh and leg being refrigerated

Yes, you can safely refreeze chicken only if it's thawed properly.

As per the USDA, bathing in cold water and defrosting in the fridge or microwave are the three safe methods to thaw chicken.

Chicken that has thawed in the refrigerator can be refrozen in its original state, though doing so requires more planning because it may take 1-2 days for the chicken to defrost thoroughly [1].

Just put it back in the freezer as soon as it's thawed.

If the chicken was microwave-thawed, it must be cooked before being returned to the freezer.

A portion of the protein may warm and cook when frozen chicken is microwaved.

Since any bacteria existing wouldn't have been eliminated, it is dangerous to refreeze it before the chicken is thoroughly cooked.

It's best to throw out previously frozen cooked chicken rather than refreeze again and risk getting foodborne illnesses.

"Make sure the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F at the very least."
- U.S. Department of Agriculture

Also Read: Can You Refreeze a Thawed Turkey?

3 Safety Guidelines for Refreezing Chicken

raw chicken in a plastic-sealed container that is refreeze

Below are some elements that may affect the safety of your meat if not followed correctly:

  • Handle chicken properly: It should be appropriately handled before freezing chicken for the first time. The storage container and the cutting tool should be clean.
  • Leaving at room temperature: Refreeze thawed chicken within 2 hours. After that, it is no longer safe since the 2-hour rule is essential for food safety.
  • Proper cooking techniques and temperature: Please ensure the chicken is cooked to a temperature of 165°F using a food thermometer. Avoid cooking frozen chicken using unclean kitchenware since it allows bacteria to multiply.

Read More: Can You Refreeze Meat?

The Proper Way to Refreeze Chicken

You can refreeze chicken by doing the following:

  • Safely thaw chicken before refreezing it.
  • Store cooked chicken in an airtight and spill-proof container. Freezer burn can be avoided by storing the proteins in the appropriate containers. Freezer burn changes the texture, color, and flavor of the chicken.
  • Immediately refreeze thawed chicken. Refreezing it at the peak of its freshness guarantees that it will taste and feel just as good as the day you purchased it.
  • Ensure the meat is kept at -18°C or lower for storage to refreeze the chicken safely. The chicken may not spoil if the temperature and the quality are preserved [2].

Note: The meat's moisture level will diminish if you keep refreezing repeatedly [3]. The fibers dry up, and the meat may become nutrient-deficient. For this reason, you must keep the thawed chicken at a temperature of about 40 ℉ to keep the natural water content of the meat.

Related Articles:

Things to Consider Before Refreezing Chicken

different part of frozen chicken on a black plate

If you want to prevent dangerous infections from eating raw meat, take these additional food safety rules before refreezing it:

  • Never thaw chicken in hot or warm water. Even lukewarm water might encourage the growth of bacteria in the meat, increasing your risk of food poisoning.
  • Clean your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds if you touch the raw chicken.
  • Ensure that the raw chicken is chopped and prepared separately for cooking if you're refreezing it. Only freeze cooked chicken that has not been touched or eaten.
  • Ensure the defrosted cooked chicken doesn't smell bad and hasn't been in the fridge for more than two days before you refreeze it.
  • If there are any pink patches on your cooked chicken, use a meat thermometer or continue to cook it for a few minutes longer.
  • Place a thermometer in your freezer or freezing compartment to monitor the temperature.

FAQs

Is It Safe to Refreeze Chicken?

Yes, it is safe to refreeze chicken as long as it is thawed properly. However, it may be dryer than typical after thawing due to moisture loss.

Can You Refreeze Previously Frozen Cooked Chicken?

You can’t refreeze previously frozen cooked chicken as it might make you ill because it contains bacteria.

How Long Can You Keep Refrozen Chicken?

You can keep uncooked refrozen chicken for 12 months and cooked refrozen chicken for 4 months.


References:

  1. https://fsis-prod.fsis.usda.gov/food-safety/safe-food-handling-and-preparation/food-safety-basics/freezing-and-food-safety
  2. https://www.fsis.usda.gov/food-safety/safe-food-handling-and-preparation/food-safety-basics/freezing-and-food-safety
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0309174021000292
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About the author

Jayden Lawson
Reviewer/Editor
Jayden is a CPW certified lifestyle writer, father of two, and a self-taught culinary artist with a passion for Southern cooking. His readers enjoy the expert interviews, success stories, and tips he shares about anything delicious, meaty, and thriving.
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